We’re used to a sporty ponytail being bouncy, easy and, well, brainless, but stylish? Not quite. There’s something about schlepping to the gym, or running laps around Manhattan in the middle of August that just sucks any potential chicness out of any potential look. It’s a means to an end, we tell ourselves, robotically tying our hair back as we rush to make our 6 p.m. kickboxing class. As long as it keeps hair away from my face and keeps me free from neck sweat, it’s all good. If it ain’t broke, right?
Well, true. But although we’re not here to advocate fussy looks while we’re being active, we still maintain that a little effort never hurt anybody. And especially if you’re into the athleisure trend or usually work out before the office or going out and being social, you can definitely stand to clean up that pony once you hit concrete. As with all things, context is key: That straggly mess of an updo might be a non-issue at spin class, but might not be appropriate for a client meeting or a dinner date. Below, check out some tips to spiff up that sporty ponytail:
The Chic Sporty Ponytail
1. Give your hair some texture.
Whether it’s via a volumizing wash and care system (we like the laid-back, summery bounce we get from Suave Professionals Sea Mineral Infusion Moisturizing Body Shampoo and Suave Professionals Sea Mineral Infusion Moisturizing Body Conditioner) or simply a dry shampoo like TRESemmé Fresh Start Basic Care Dry Shampoo to reboot your look before heading out, that tiny bit of traction helps give your ponytail some grip and structure. In short, the less stringy, the better.
2. Use a fine-toothed comb.
We’ve all been there—rough-ponying using just our hands, our fingernails scraping through our scalps (it even sounds painful). Always have a comb handy and never forget to detangle after your workout, even if the only time you have is spraying hair with a leave-in conditioner. Dove Quench Absolute Leave-In Detangler works wonders in unknotting a messy, post-workout updo, as well as give your strands a great refresh.
3. Get grown-up hair ties.
Ditch those rainbow-colored elastics, anything with acrylic or sparkly add-ons, ribbons, anything that reminds you of middle school. Hair ties in a neutral hue or even those that match your hair color are easier to dress around, and aren’t as conspicuous in more formal settings.
4. Master the low pony.
The thoughtful sporty ponytail can is usually a deliberate look, not that run-of-the-mill, medium-height thing you always do. At your next low-impact activity, try a smooth low ponytail with a side part—not only will it elevate your yoga #ootd, it’s also great for those flat-back poses, and doesn’t create an obvious bend in your hair when removed.
5. High impact means high pony.
On the other hand, a high-impact activity can afford the extra perk factor from a high ponytail. We love how a well-executed top knot or high pony instantly adds more pep in your step and acts as an instant face lift. It’s almost impossible to look depressed when sporting a really cute pineapple hairstyle—we tried. Also, it’s majorly trending.
6. Make a deliberate part.
The chic sporty ponytail has a point of view. In this case, that means a definite partline, especially with a low pony. Whether side or middle, creating a part with an updo polishes it up and gives your features more dimension.
7. Don’t knock the hairspray.
Remove all hoity-toity references and exploit hairspray for what it really is: an awesome last frontier for frizz protection and control. After a workout, it can instantly whip your look back into place—and smooth down any gnarly bumps in that high pony—before you head out into the elements. A humidity-defying formula, such as Nexxus New York Salon Care Frizz Defy Finishing Mist, does just that without over-shellacking.
Discover even more ways to wear your hair during the gym in our gallery of gym hairstyles.